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Residential Schools

 

Dear Senator Beyak:

 I wish to commend you in your attempt to bring some balance to the aboriginal file on residential schools. This took courage on your part for, as you know, in these times any criticism of or dissent on aboriginal policy seems inevitably to lead to a charge of being a "racist". This has seemingly already occurred in your case with the comments of NDP MP Romeo Saganash who is reported to have likened your comments to that of a "Nazi apologist". This type of reaction is both unfortunate and historically inaccurate. By implication it seeks to equate the residential schools experience with the Holocaust. And while the residential schools system had many and serious shortcomings, which you have rightfully acknowledged, it could hardly be equated with the horrific Nazi extermination of 6 million of our fellow human beings. In short, this is political overreach at its worst.

Two other comments attributed to you also deserve some praise. The first is your defence of Hector-Louis Langevin. In this era of political correctness we are all too often willing to condemn the actions taken by historical figures on the basis of today's mores and not those which prevailed at the time the historical decisions were taken - a dangerous practice which you have rightfully questioned. The second was your praise of Pierre Trudeau's white paper - an initiative seemingly doomed to failure by vested interests. Had it succeeded we presumably would have less exclusionary rhetoric ("nation to nation") and more of an inclusionary perspective (one nation) in our contemporary discussion of aboriginal issues.

In summary, keep up the good work and maintain your resolve to answer your critics and not bow to them. To fortify you in that regard I sugest an article written by a couple of University of Manitoba professors in 2015 - "Debunking the half-truths and exaggerations in the Truth and Reconciliation report". My recollection, as might be expected, is that the article was greeted with cries of "racism". Finally I would recommend to you a book entitled Disrobing The Aboriginal Industry - Deception Behind The Indigenous Cultural Preservation by Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008).

 Thank you for any attention you may give my e-mail.

 Yours truly,

 Barry